Revalidate Win Shares Expectations
Ok, before I start to question the whole validity of win shares after it shows that David Eckstein is the best shortstop in MLB, let's look at the MVP and Cy Young races in the NL. Why the NL? It stems from this email response that I penned on 10/4/05, before I saw any of the win share calculations. (Edited for content.)
"As a baseball fan, and a Cardinal fan, I feel that now that the season is over, it is time to weigh in on the NL races for MVP and Cy Young.
First off - HR and RBI are important stats, but they shouldn't be the end all be all. Same with ERA and Wins. However, those are the stats that folks examine the most. Right now, if that is the case, I would say that Andruw Jones and Dontrelle Willis will win the respective awards. However, I would argue for Albert Pujols and Roger Clemens. (Sorry Chris Carpenter, but the last couple of weeks took you out as far as I can tell.)
Why Albert? Two reasons - OPS and runs generated. Albert's OBP dwarfs Andruw's and Albert's SLG is higher as well - with 10 fewer HRs. So, obviously - OPS is greater as well. Runs generated (Runs + RBI - HR) are also heavily in favor of Albert. He may not have the RBIs that Andruw has, but he has way more runs which makes up for the deficit in RBIs and then some. To me, those are the important stats. (For those of you that still use the "valuable" part of this award - Rolen was out most of the year, same with Walker, and Sanders and Edmonds didn't exactly tear it up. I'm sure Atlanta has comparable offensive players to those remaining on the Cards. The Cards may have the pitching - but you still need to score to win - and the presence of Mulder and Carpenter should not take away from Pujols' offensive achievements. However, this is a separate debate, and one that I don't feel strongly about since the connotation of 'valuable' is highly variable.)
Why Roger? Whip, BAA and K/9. He beats the other two soundly in Whip and BAA and is very comparable to Carpenter in K/9 - off by only seven hundredths. Plus, he still has a sterling ERA - in a band box of a ball park. Wins are dependent on offensive support - and the Astros couldn't support a jock. The only difference is in CG and shutouts - but I would say that is more of a function of the offense as well - since an extra bat in the later innings is more important when you aren't getting any run support."
So, now let's look at the NL offensive player win shares and the NL pitching win shares. (I sorted on pitching along - I didn't want to include the negative hitting effects, since the award is for the best pitcher and not the pitcher who can also swing the bat a little bit.)
First off, Albert Pujols was the best player in the league. To me, that makes him the MVP. Now, if you are going to argue that he had other players to help him win like Jim Edmonds with 28 win shares and (shudder) David Eckstein with another 28, I think you are full of crap. Those two, as good of players as they are, do not strike fear into the hearts of men. Or women, for that matter. If you are going to argue you have to be the lone provider on a 'winning' team, you better be voting for Brian Giles - for the next closest win share total to his 35 on the Padres is 17. (Jake Peavy, Khalil Greene and Ryan Klesko.) If you try to use this argument for Andruw Jones - look at the Braves and the fact that Rafael Furcal and Marcus Giles both have more total win shares than Andruw and Chipper Jones, Furcal and Giles all have more offensive win shares. To me, it seems that Derrek Lee should be the closest in the race for the MVP - although he won't get votes since the Cubs were not a 'winning' team.
I found the NL pitching win shares to be fascinating. Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt were all in the top four in the league, with Willis in second. The other surprising thing, Brandon Webb sneaks in at number five before Carpenter in sixth. The Astros had one hell of a rotation - too bad it wore out in the World Series. Anyway, the best pitcher in the league was Clemens - and the Cy Young should go to him, hands down. Now, we'll see how the voters go.